As far back as I can remember, running around my fathers kitchen while he worked wasn't that boring for a young kid. In fact taking in the different scents in the air and playing with things I shouldn't be touching was quite satisfying. Learning how to taste at a young age was extremely beneficial. I spent a lot of time with my dad while he worked and learned a lot of things I still practice today. Flavoring and pairing unusual ingredients have always been interesting to me at a very young age.
I look at cocktails a bit different then most. When I am creating a cocktail I like reverse engineer my thought process. For me it's about diving into the ingredients you plan on surrounding the star of the show with. When making a cocktail you should always treat the spirits with the upmost respect. A perfect cocktail is seen through many different eyes.
It's important to have knowledge on the spirit you are working with. You may find something about the spirit that will lead you to a flavor pairing. This is where I go backwards and create the ingredients first with the spirt in mind. I love reading flavor comparison cook books. One of my favorite for creating cocktails is "The Flavor Thesaurus." I have never actually read the book from cover to cover, I just pull it out and go to the index and look up ingredients I am working with. From there I can see a flavor wheel of all the flavors that pair with the ingredient I have looked up.
One of our biggest misconceptions as that we taste with our mouth. That is totally wrong, we taste with our nose. Keeping that in mind when your finishing your cocktail, you should really think about all of the senses and how you can bring that attention to the cocktail.